Taking your tablets abroad - do the stupid deserve everything they get?
Data roaming on your iPad or tablet PC can be up to 1,000 times more expensive than equivalent 3G internet use in the UK, Which! has discovered - particularly outside of Europe.
Yes, it's news to us, too. No, wait a minute it's not at all. What's the opposite of news? Linkbait? PR fodder? Yes, it's that. While we love our friends at Which!, publishing damning research that using an iPad abroad can cost a lot of money feels like less of a story, more a statement of the bleeding obvious.
The consumer champions use number-play to paint a dire picture of using tablets abroad: on the basis that a customer can purchase 1 GB of domestic data from Three, Which! then goes on to point out in countries like Canada, Three charges £10 per MB, meaning a bill of £10,000.
Now, while the figures are absolutely true, there are some common sense factors which have to be ignored. For instance, for a tablet owner to drum up such an extortionate bill, they must:
• be completely unaware that using data abroad incurs significant costs: this is incredibly difficult in 2011. It means a person has somehow dodged years of horror stories from friends, family and colleagues, and never once read a news story highlighting roaming charges.
• ignore all network and device warnings concerning roaming charges: unexpected holiday bills aren't anything new, which is why handsets at least are blitzed with texts from the moment you touchdown in foreign climes. Your network will warn you how much data costs, the native network will warn you how much data costs.
The argument of whether roaming charges are too high and bear no semblance to the actual service costs is a separate issue. The issue is how detached from the world you have to be to use any data-intensive device abroad and not expect to incur charges. Short of prizing tablets out of stupid people's clammy hands at the airport, it's uncertain what else network operators can do.
We can't have it all ways - we can't piss and moan at operators about how we're all grown-ups when they introduce mandatory age verification on browsing, then protest when we choose to ignore numerous warnings and several years of marketing and media coverage when we choose to use devices abroad.
Is there more networks should be doing? Or should consumer accept some responsibility for their own actions?